- Sreenivasan Jain
News that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) is finally ready to close the case against Mulayam Singh Yadav and his family for having amassed wealth beyond their income led us to revisit, on the NDTV show Truth versus Hype, the depressing history of one of the most politically supervised investigations in the agency's history.
Some would argue that the case was born out of politics: the petitioner who went to the Supreme Court, Vishwanath Chaturvedi, is a Congress activist from Lucknow.
But the court found his political affiliations no reason to dismiss the merits of his allegations, and asked the CBI to begin a preliminary enquiry.
After going through the tax documents of the Yadavs - Mulayam, his late wife Malti Devi, Akhilesh and Dimple - the CBI told the court in an October 2007 preliminary enquiry (PE) that in the period under investigation (1993 to 2005) the family had spent about Rs 6 crore and earned about Rs 4 crore, which suggests that they had disproportionate assets of around Rs 2.6 crore.
By the general standards of political pelf in India, this may seem like pocket change and which any halfway competent chartered accountant can suitably explain away.
But the CBI suggested that that there were enough "hidden" assets and anomalies, which if properly investigated, would push the actual figure much higher.
For example, the Yadavs appeared to have used the common technique of buying prime plots of land in Lucknow at grossly undervalued rates.
Between June and August 2004, Akhilesh and Dimple bought about 4,000 sq ft in a plot on Lucknow's M G Road for about Rs 27 lakh, which comes to the absurdly low figure, even for that time, of Rs 700 per sq ft. The prevailing market rate: Around Rs 5,000 per square foot.
Image: Head of the Samajwadi Party, Sri Mulayam Singh Yadav waves as he leaves the polling station after casting his vote in Safai, in the Mainpuri constituency in Uttar Pradesh on May 7, 2009. (AFP)
Text: Business Standard